The CBCP is on the defensive. Since Noynoy declared that he would give poor Filipinos the option to use contraceptives, the bishops have been planning their counterattack. Fr. Melvin Castro, executive director of the Catholic bishops’ Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, threatened to “do everything just to block the measure.”
Yesterday the CBCP revealed their strategy:
A network of 100 Catholic lay groups across the country Tuesday geared up for protest actions.
Preliminary consultations among lay leaders will be held in Metro Manila this week.
“Initially, they (the lay) would write letters to legislators and national leaders and, without discounting the great possibility of [holding] rallies in the streets… we are gearing towards that,” Castro said.
“We fear that (Mr. Aquino’s statement) will not end here but we are praying that we are wrong,” Castro said.
But prayers and protests are just one side of their strategy. Because they lack reason and evidence — not to mention the numbers — to support their cause, the bishops have once again resorted to myths, misinformation, and manipulation.
Here are just some of their dirty tactics:
Misrepresentation and Hasty Generalization
The CBCP has around 133 members. Their voice is not even a whisper in a country of 92 million. But for their protest to have political clout, they’re going to need the numbers. This is why instead of admitting that the CBCP is the main force behind this protest, they’re making it seems as if they’re not prime movers but mere consultants:
Castro said the Catholic clergy, including the bishops, would back the lay groups’ actions. “On the side of the clergy, we will simply support them in this initiative,” he added.
CBCP, if you want to continue using this strategy, you can start by replacing Fr. Castro as the spokesperson of the movement.
But hiding behind the lay groups is not enough for one bishop:
Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez of Caloocan criticized Mr. Aquino’s statement. “The whole Church is against it,” he told The Associated Press.
The whole Church is against it? How did he know? Did he do a new survey? Because in the most recent surveys, two-thirds said they wanted contraception. Or maybe this Church he’s referring to only includes Catholics who agree with the CBCP on contraceptives.
Fr. Castro said their actions would “not be confrontational” with the President. He lied. Just ask presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, who called “unfair’’ and “below the belt’’ a statement made by Castro:
“It’s just a small amount compared to the moral values that we are going to lose,” Castro said in a press release. “Apparently for that measly sum of money in the name of fighting poverty, here we are again, selling out the Filipino soul. It’s just sad.”
And in case the “Filipino soul” is too impersonal to induce enough guilt, Castro thinks appealing to “family” might do the job:
Castro said the Church and the faithful had hoped that Mr. Aquino, as the son of the late former President and prolife champion Corazon Aquino and being surrounded by four sisters, could be “influenced” to address the issue of poverty through economic means, not by population control.
For an organization that is against choice, the CBCP uses the word “freedom” quite casually:
“Our lay leaders, who have their own families, see the need to be very visible in this protest and we respect their freedom.”
In this case, it’s good that Castro qualified freedom with “their.” Because the CBCP only respects the freedom of those who already agree with them. What about the freedom of those who choose contraception? As Rosa Luxemburg said, freedom is always the freedom of dissenters.
Yet all this is consistent with the CBCP’s preferred political system — theocracy.
In another statement, Castro said that the President should listen to those who protest contraceptives because “among them are people who really supported him during the elections” and “elected him into office.”
But what about the voters who support contraception? And what about those who didn’t vote for Noynoy but support his stance on contraceptives? It seems that Castro thinks only those on the CBCP’s side deserve to be listened to. Which is just a roundabout way of saying that only the CBCP deserves to be listened to. Ignoring the majority in favor of a few bishops is not democracy. But then again, that’s not what the CBCP wants.
Indoctrination and Misinformation
The CBCP is also intensifying its brainwashing efforts:
The CBCP was gearing up against any other future government moves through mobilization of lay groups and the faithful and by intensifying value formation and catechism down to the barangay chapels.
“So whatever the government will do in the near or far future, our faithful will have a well-formed conscience,” he said.
And what kind of wisdom will the faithful form their consciences with?
Church officials have argued that contraception is a type of abortion, which is banned by the Constitution.
Saying this over and over will not make it true. Once again, CBCP, abortion is the termination of a pregnancy; contraception is the prevention of a pregnancy. But I guess the CBCP can teach whatever it wants. After all, what they’re doing is not education — it’s indoctrination.
Discrediting the Informed
It’s useless to spread lies when those pesky doctors and health officials keep telling the truth. Which is why for the CBCP, disparaging them only makes sense:
Antipolo Auxiliary Bishop Francisco de Leon viewed Mr. Aquino’s statement as a “passive stance” on birth control. “But what is happening on the local level is more aggressive,” De Leon said on Radio Veritas. De Leon said local health officials were the ones telling couples what should be done, instead of letting them decide.
Health officials cannot decide for a couple. The most they can do is give advice based on their research and experience. Since when has giving advice been the same as making a decision for someone? Could it be that given the right information, the bishops know that people are more likely to choose contraception?
They’re making it seem like health officials — and those who promote RH information — are robbing people of their freedom. But freedom requires having options. These health officials aren’t taking away freedom; they’re giving people more of it.
Whenever the CBCP is threatened, you can be sure they’ll spout the word “morality” pretty soon:
Fr. Francis Lucas, the CBCP executive secretary for social communications and mass media, said it was morally incorrect to let people decide what was right and wrong according to their needs.
First they say that people should make their own decisions. Then they say that it’s morally incorrect to do so?
Fr. Lucas added that “the ‘optional’ use of contraceptives blurs the lines between right and wrong.”
That is their solution to complex issues of morality? Removing options? This shows just how much they trust their flock. But didn’t a bishop say that the “whole Church” is against contraception? If so, then what are they afraid of?
* * *
The CBCP came close to the truth when they said that providing contraceptives “is a serious matter” because “it is the Filipino family at stake here.” Yes, this is a serious matter. Yes, the Filipino family is at stake. But the danger doesn’t come from the president’s promise. We got in this predicament because the CBCP has been blocking RH progress for too long.
Revealing the CBCP’s manipulative strategy weakens it, helping ensure Noynoy follows through with his promise. We will have to organize counter-protests, but thankfully, we don’t have to stoop to their level. Reason and evidence — not to mention the majority of Filipinos –are on our side. In a democratic country, these should be more than enough.